Wood Stoves for Bus Conversions
There's nothing quite like a real wood fire to make a bus feel like home.
But not every stove is appropriate for a bus conversion. Most household sized wood stoves are simply too large to use in a bus without overheating the space. And some small stoves are just too tiny to be practical for serious heating. Take the time to find the perfect stove for your space and lifestyle, and you'll spend countless evenings enjoying the warm glow of a real wood fire in your home on wheels.
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What is the best wood stove for my skoolie?
Choosing the right size wood stove for your bus is the first step to enjoying years of cozy evenings by the fire.
Traditional household stoves are simply too large for most bus conversions. If your stove is too large, it will be difficult to use it without making your home uncomfortably hot. Choking down a too-large stove can also produce dangerous amounts of creosote, which can cause a chimney fire if not properly managed.
On the other hand, some mini stoves are just too small for serious heating. A properly sized stove can provide longer overnight burns, plenty of heat for even the coldest Winter days, and can even help manage the humidity in your home.
Our wood stove BTU Calculator for small structures is a great place to start. To choose the right stove for your needs, consider how you plan to use your stove, and what features and accessories are important to you. Will your stove be your primary or sole heat source, or will you just use it for supplemental heat and ambiance? Do you want the option to use your stove for cooking as well as heating? Do you want a large fire viewing window, efficient airtight controls, or a direct air kit? Do you want options to customize the look of your stove, like an enamel door or wood storage stand?
The Dwarf 3kW
Our smallest stove, the Dwarf 3kW, is a great option for short buses and milder climates where less heat is required. The compact size is perfect for fitting in tight spaces. The tall firebox, airtight controls, and secondary burn technology give the Dwarf 3kW stove the longest burn time in the 3kW size. Enjoy cozy nights at home, watching the fire through the large window while you warm a kettle on the cooktop.
The Dwarf 3kW Standard is a full-featured stove designed for serious heating. We've packed in all the same features and options as our larger stoves, just in a smaller package. For small buses where weight is a concern, our Dwarf 3kW LITE offers a simpler set of features in a lightweight package. Compare the Dwarf 3kW Standard vs. LITE.
The Dwarf 4kW
The Dwarf 4kW is our medium sized small stove. The 4kW size is a perfect fit for a full sized bus in temperatures down to just below freezing, or for mid-sized buses in colder climates. With more features and options than many full-sized stoves, the Dwarf 4kW is a great choice for serious heating in a small space, unmatched ambiance, and lots of options to customize the look of your stove.
The Dwarf 5kW
Our largest small stove, the Dwarf 5kW cranks out plenty of heat and provides longer burn times for full sized buses traveling in colder climates. With all the features you need in a wood stove, and tons of options available to customize the look and functionality of your stove, the Dwarf 5kW can turn long, cold winters into cozy evenings by the fire.
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How to install a wood stove in a bus
When installing a wood stove in your bus, planning ahead for a safe and functional installation is a must! Small, mobile spaces present unique challenges for wood stove installs. Using proper materials, good flue design, and adequate safety clearances will ensure a safe and reliable installation for years to come.
Building Your Flue System
The flue system is the "engine" of the wood stove. Without the flue creating draft, a wood stove will not burn properly. Consult our flue design resources for detailed information on good flue design principles.
Proper materials are critical for a safe wood stove installation. Only use solid fuel rated stovepipe and chimney pipe for installing a wood stove. Pellet pipe and B-vent are not rated to withstand the high temperatures produced by a wood stove.
Start with one of our RV/Bus Installation kit matching your stove's flue size, then add extra pipe as needed to fit your space, and create a detachable chimney. Run your space through our flue system builder for a complete list of parts for your project, or contact us for help from a human.
We strongly recommend using a roof exit for a bus installation. The flue system is the "engine" of the stove, and since buses are relatively short structures, small differences in design can make a big difference in function. Roof exits are also cheaper to install, and much easier to manage in a structure that moves. If a wall exit is truly the only option, a tiny house wall exit kit can be adapted to fit a bus, provided there is sufficient vertical height to create good draft.
Installing Your Stove
Your wood stove will generally need to sit on a fireproof hearth that protects the floor below from heat radiating from the stove, and from embers falling out of the door. A hearth is usually made of some combination of tile, stone, metal, or cement board. Consult the Dwarf Manual for specific requirements on hearth design.
Wood stoves get very hot during operation, so they require a significant amount of air space between the stove and surrounding combustible materials. Most bus installations use heat shields to reduce the required clearances by up to 2/3.
Consider elevating your stove off the floor with a wood storage stand, or installing it on top of a custom cabinet or counter. Raising the firebox off the ground can make stoking and viewing the fire more comfortable, and often looks more visually appealing.
Dwarf Stoves are designed to bolt down to the hearth, whether you use the standard legs, tall legs, or the wood storage stand. If you are elevating your stove off the floor, be sure the surface your stove sits on is substantial enough to hold the stove in place during travel.
It's unusual for a bus to be so airtight that a separate air supply is needed for the stove to function. However, if you want to avoid cold drafts in your bus, consider adding a dedicated fresh air supply with the direct air kit. Providing the stove with its own air supply will prevent it from pulling in cold air through leaky window and door seals.
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Why work with Tiny Wood Stove?
Tiny Living Community
We're tiny living people like you, working to live intentionally and to support others doing the same. We care about your journey, and can relate to the challenges you're running into along the way. Read more about us.
Converting a bus into a home is not an easy project! But you're not alone. Whether you're using our products or not, we'll offer whatever help we can to help make your tiny living dreams a reality. Contact us to chat about your project, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 208-352-3417.
The Right Materials
We carry wood stoves and solid fuel rated flue parts that are specifically designed for small stoves. We're familiar with the unique challenges of building bus conversions, and we carry specialized parts to support compact and mobile installs.
If you need something we don't carry, we'll tell you where to find it. And if you need help with an unusual or creative design, we're here to help with that, too.